February 2011
On the Edge of Common Sense

Cheer for Horses

As we horse owners and lovers struggle to find some middle ground in the tragic abandoned horse issue, maybe we need to look "outside the box."

Most horse owners, horse associations, equine veterinarians and those of us forced to take the responsibility for dealing with the mess, are still optimistic the new Centers for Humane Euthanasia and Equine Recycling (CHEER) will be built.

Opponents of CHEER object to the basic idea that horses are animals like buffalo, lobster, pheasant or whale that are, and have been routinely, eaten by civilized men for millennia. Their position recognizes neither history, economic impact nor common sense as legitimate arguments in support of CHEER.

One causative factor horse owners on both sides might agree is that the explosion of abandoned horses, their subsequent abuse, their plummeting value and the increasing apathy of the public to their fate, is the average horse owner has no reasonable, much less profitable, way to dispose of their unwanted horses.

Opponents of CHEER present either one or both of two big objections:

1) The process is not humane or

2) It is not "right" for people to eat horsemeat.

What if we had a plan that improved the use of natural resources, fed the hungry and eliminated the difficult need to bury, burn or, otherwise, dump the carcass in a landfill once you have humanly euthanized our horse? Take him or have her delivered to an approved CHEER. Think of it as a local boutique abattoir. In return, you will get it back as rump steals, wither roast or dog bones. If you are uncomfortable eating your own, you could swap with another customer. If you chose not to eat it at all, it could be donated to the millions of children the government says go to bed hungry every night. Donate it to Africa, Italy, North Korea. The soup bones could go to the zoo or the local humane society in your community.

Your actions would be unselfish, charitable, ecologically-friendly, recycling at its purest AND we would immediately solve the abandoned horse tragedy! It is as good an idea as making fur coats out of roadkill!

In deference to those unsympathetic to CHEER, we must face the fact we do not all have the same taste. Should I have the right to prevent you from eating eggs sunnyside up? Boiled okra? Raw oysters, goose liver, brie, mushrooms, lamb shanks, seaweed, broccoli, tofu, noodles and things that crawl on the sea floor! Can you imagine if someone stood up and said, "You will not be allowed to import, cook, serve and, otherwise, eat bananas, because I think it is immoral!"

I remind us all there is no abuse in humane euthanasia and no law, moral or constitutional, preventing you from eating cherries flambé, wild salmon or an Appaloosa filet served with latigo sauce and chopped reins.

Baxter Black is a former large animal veterinarian who can be followed nationwide through this column, National Public Radio, public appearances, television and also through his books, cds, videos and website, www.baxterblack.com.